Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 3033–3040 | Cite as

Induction of hydrogen, hydroxy, and LPG with ethanol in a common SI engine: a comparison of performance and emission characteristics

  • Md. Atiqur RahmanEmail author
Research Article


In this investigation, performance and emission characteristics for enhancing LPG, hydrogen, and hydroxy with E20 were evaluated for the understanding of which fuel combination performs better in a gasoline engine. In the upper sequence, hydroxy-hydrogen-LPG could perform best in terms of brake thermal efficiency (BTE) and brake-specific fuel consumption (BSFC). The induction of gaseous fuel improves CO, CO2, and HC emission but increases the NOx emission. More concisely, the enhancement of hydroxy with E20 shows the best engine performance for highest BTE while lowest BSFC as well as lowest exhaust emissions (CO, HC, except NOx).


LPG Hydrogen Hydroxy SI engine Performance Emission 



Hydroxy gas


Brake power


20% (v/v) ethanol + 80% (v/v) gasoline


Brake-specific fuel consumption


Brake thermal efficiency


Unburned hydrocarbon


Nitrogen oxides


Liquefied petroleum gas


Liter per minute


Over the last decades, gaseous fuels (hydrogen, hydroxy, and liquid petroleum gas) have been widely used in spark-ignition (SI) engines due to the obtained favorable results in terms of fuel economy, an improvement in engine performance, and emission (Karagoz et al. 2015; Nayak et al. 2015). The researcher inducted these gases separately into the engine to gain some particular benefits while gaining some disadvantages.

Hydrogen has a higher diffusion coefficient, five times the flame speed of gasoline which improves the homogeneity of the combustible mixture and improves thermal efficiency. However, the difficulties associated with the production, storage, and transportation of pure hydrogen currently limit the application of pure hydrogen in SI engine. Electrolysis of water for the production of hydroxy gas, a mixture of hydrogen-oxygen in 2:1 volume ratio, is one of the sustainable solutions for this problem. Hydroxy has better performance and emission characteristics compared to hydrogen (El-kassaby et al. 2016). But it is difficult to build an on-board hydroxy generator in a running vehicle which continuously supplies the fuel to engine. On the other hand, an LPG-enrich engine performs with higher efficiency, shows better fuel economy, and improves emission when inducted with a sole fuel (Mustafa and Gitano-Briggs 2009; Nayak et al. 2015). But expensive in nature and high fuel consumption are the main disadvantages compared to gasoline. Moreover, high auto-ignition temperature of this assistance cannot be used as a sole fuel for an SI engine. Bioethanol, as a renewable source to mitigate the fuel crisis, alone with this gaseous fuel may be a viable solution for the gasoline engine (Al-Baghdadi 2003; Cetin 2011; De Almeida et al. 2015). The researcher frequently changes the before-mentioned gaseous fuel to find out a suitable combination for the engine.

Lots of works of using ethanol as a sole fuel in an SI engine are well established and individually, the induction of hydrogen, hydroxy, and LPG with bioethanol is a renowned interest in the recent time. Thus, it is hard to understand which fuel has better engine performance and emission characteristics although some researcher shows interest to induct this alternative in a common SI engine. Thakur et al. (2017) reviewed the progress in performance analysis of ethanol-gasoline blends on an SI engine and concluded that an induction of ethanol blends improves BP, torque, and BTE while worsen the brake-specific fuel consumption (BSFC). Chansauria and Mandloi (2018) have mentioned in their review paper that an increasing proportion of ethanol in the blend improves BTE, heat release rate, volumetric efficiency, cylinder pressure, and unburned hydrocarbon (HC), but increases CO2 emission. Greenwood et al. (2014) have done an experimental investigation of enrichment hydrogen with ethanol in an ultra-lean SI engine. The induction of hydrogen decreased NOx emission more than 95% compared to stoichiometric gasoline operation while a little impact on thermal efficiency in ultra-lean regime. Akansu et al. (2017) enrich hydrogen with gasoline-ethanol blends and have found better engine performance and emission values while NOx emission values increased with the addition of hydrogen. De Almeida et al. (2015) conducted an experiment of using hydroxy with gasoline-ethanol blends in an SI on-board engine. The authors reported that induction of hydroxy could reduce fuel consumption without compromising exhaust emission levels. Brayek et al. (2016) inducted hydroxy in an SI engine and reported that the induction of hydroxy could improve BSFC, HC, CO, and CO2. Though a small reduction in NOx concentration at low load was observed, it increased significantly with the increase in engine loads. Chitragar et al. (2015) have conducted an experiment in an SI engine with hydrogen and LPG. The authors reported that induction of hydrogen and LPG with gasoline improves CO, HC, and NOx emissions.

The existing literature is devoted only to the application of neat ethanol blends with hydrogen, hydroxy, and LPG with ethanol on an SI engine separately. However, there are no comparison studies available to find out the effect of induction of this gaseous fuel with the blends of ethanol in the common engine. Thus, the main objective of this investigation is to compare the performance and emission characteristics of using hydrogen, hydroxy, and LPG with ethanol blends in an SI engine so that researchers could decide which fuel is best for transportation vehicles.

Experimental methodology

Safety and essential equipment

The high cylinder pressure of the hydrogen (purity—99.999%), hydroxy, and LPG was reduced to atmospheric (operating) pressure with the help of the pressure regulator. The gaseous fuel mixed with air in a gas carburetor and then inducted into the engine combustion chamber. The LPG was vaporized by a vaporizer before being mixed with air into the carburetor. Before inducted into the intake manifold, the gaseous fuel passes through the flame tap for inhibiting the possible explosion and avoiding the backfire in the supply line if increased. A flashback arrestor was used to restrain or shut off gas flow and extinguish the flame before it can reach the gas ignition source if any undesirable combustion phenomenon occurs (Dhanasekaran and Mohankumar 2016). The various non-reverse control valves were set up in the gaseous fuel supply line to stop the backflow of gases. The E20 was supplied to the engine (carburetor) in the conventional way. The flow rate of the gaseous fuel was adjusted by a control valve (needle valve) and was measured by a gas flow meter.

Hydroxy generator

The system contains an electrolyte cell, water reservoir, constant current pulse width modulator, separation tank, water pool, fittings, and electrical wires. A hydroxy generator runs with an engine battery connected to the engine alternator. Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) was chosen as an ion-conducting support. During operation, positively charged hydrogen ions attract to the cathode and formulate hydrogen gas whereas negatively charged oxygen ions attract to the anode and formulate oxygen gas. A separation tank separates water droplet from the hydroxy and gas reserved into an inverted graduated cylinder by bushing the water down in a water open pool. The technical specification and schematic arrangement of the system are shown in Table 1 and Fig. 1 respectively.
Table 1

Technical specification of the hydroxy system

Electrodes made and number

Stainless steel and 16

Electrolysis voltage and current

24 V and 30 A

Electrolyte (1% by mass)


Water temperature

40–45 °C

Water level control

Floating system

Fig. 1

Schematic arrangement of hydroxy generator

Engine test bed and procedure

The experiments were conducted in a Ford MVH418 four-stroke cycle SI engine. The dynamometer was directly connected to the engine which was electrically controlled. The short specification of the engine and dynamometer is shown in Table 2 and the schematic of the experimental setup is shown in Fig. 2. The rated power of the engine was assumed as full load (100%). The tests were performed in two stages. Firstly, the load of the engine was varied whereas speed was kept fixed at 3000 rpm. Secondly, the engine was run by varying the speed. Initially, the engine was started with E20 for 5 min to warm up the engine, and then the reading of air flow rate, fuel consumption, and exhaust emission quantity of HC, CO, CO2, and NOx were taken. Consecutively, the engine was running on with E20+H2, E20+HHO, and E20+LPG, and the same reading was also taken. The speed of the engine was measured by a speed sensor attachment. Volumetric air flow was measured using a positive displacement flow meter and E20 consumption was measured by a burette attachment very carefully. The emissions (NOx, HC, CO2, and CO) were measured by an AVL DiCom 4000 model exhaust gas analyzer. Technical features of the exhaust gas analyzer are shown in Table 3. The brake power (BP) and BTE of the engine were calculated by using Eqs. 1 and 2 respectively.
$$ \mathrm{BP}=\frac{\mathrm{VI}}{\upeta_{\mathrm{g}}}\kern0.5em \left(\mathrm{W}\right) $$
$$ {\upeta}_{\mathrm{BTE}}=\frac{\mathrm{BP}}{{\left(\dot{m}. LCV\right)}_{\mathrm{E}20}+{\left(\dot{m}. LCV\right)}_{\mathrm{H}2,\kern0.5em \mathrm{HHO},\mathrm{LPG}}\ }\ \left(\%\right) $$
where V is the voltage (v), I is the current (A), \( \dot{m} \) is the mass flow rate (kg/s), and LCV is the lower calorific value (kJ/kg) of the fuel.
Table 2

Specification of the engine and dynamometer


 Model and type

Ford MVH418


4 in lines

 Bore × stroke

80.6 × 88 mm

 Engine stroke volume

1.796 liter

 Compression ratio


 Max. power

77 kW @ 7500 rpm

 Max. torque

153 Nm @ 5000 rpm




 Max. speed

8000 rpm

 Max. power & torque

150 kW & 500 Nm

Fig. 2

Schematic of the experimental setup

Table 3

Technical features of the exhaust gas analyzer



Measuring range


AVL DiCom 4000


0–10% vol.

± 0.01% vol.


0–20% vol.

± 0.1% vol.


0–20,000 ppm

± 1 ppm


0–5000 ppm

± 1 ppm


Gas flow

0–100 lpm

± 2.5%

The magnitude of error was calculated by using the principle of root-mean-square given by Holman (1973) Eq. 3 as
$$ {W}_{\mathrm{R}}={\left[{\left(\frac{\partial R}{{\partial x}_1}{w}_1\right)}^2+{\left(\frac{\partial R}{{\partial x}_2}{w}_2\right)}^2+\cdots \cdots \cdots +{\left(\frac{\partial R}{{\partial x}_n}{w}_n\right)}^2\ \right]}^{\frac{1}{2}} $$
where WR is the total uncertainty value, R is the function, x1, x2, …, xn are the independent variables, and w1, w2, …, wn is the uncertainty values of the independent variables.

The uncertainty of BP and BSFC was estimated to be ± 0.72 kW and ± 1.7% respectively. The uncertainty of the exhaust emission was found to be ± 0.2% for CO, ± 0.2% for CO2, ± 4 ppm for HC, and ± 5 ppm for NOx emission.

Tested fuels

The E20 was selected as an ignition source with a gaseous fuel base on a literature survey. Addition of ethanol improves the anti-knock behavior (due to high octane number) which allows more advanced timing that results in higher combustion pressure and thus higher engine torque. But excessive ethanol caused by fuel impingement on the piston can be attributed to the reduction in fuel volatility and create a problem during cold start (Turner et al. 2011). Thus, a researcher often mixed 10–25% (v/v) ethanol with gasoline for better and reliable performance of an SI engine (Kremer and Fachetti 2000; Costa and Sodré 2010; Eyidogan et al. 2010). The gaseous fuel was inducted alone with E20 at a fixed quantity of 10 lpm. Though an increase in gaseous fuel flow rate improves engine performance, it sharply increases NOx emission (Rahman et al. 2017b); thus, high flow rate was avoided for this experiment. LPG is composed of 70% butane + 30% propane and a high purity of 99.96% compressed hydrogen gas was used in the experiment. Hydroxy was a mixture of hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2) gases, typically in a 2:1 M ratio. Some selected properties of tested fuels are shown in Table 4. Hydrogen and LPG have a higher octane number which makes it possible to work with higher compression ratios. The higher heating value, flame velocity, and auto-ignition temperature of gaseous fuels were higher than those of E20.
Table 4

Properties of the tested fuel (Chitragar et al. 2015; Nayak et al. 2015; Rahman et al. 2017b)





Density (kg/m3)




Lower calorific value (MJ/kg)




Stoich. air-to-fuel ratio (kg/kg)




Adiabatic flame temperature (°C)




Auto-ignition temperature (°C)




Octane number




Flame velocity (m/s)




Flammability limits in air (vol.%)




Results and discussion

In this experiment, E20 only, hydrogen with ethanol (E20+H2), hydroxy with ethanol (E20+HHO), and LPG enriched with ethanol (E20+LPG) were inducted into the engine as dual fuel mode operation. The performance and emission characteristics of the tested fuels were compared with those of the neat E20.

Brake thermal efficiency

BTE is a crucial parameter for evaluating overall performance. The effect of engine speed on BTE is shown in Fig. 3a, b. BTE of the E20+HHO, E20+H2, and E20+LPG was higher than that of the E20. The induction of gaseous fuel increased AFR which has a greater impact on a better combustion process inside the chamber. The diatomic structure of hydrogen (only H2) results in efficient combustion because hydrogen atoms interact directly without any ignition delay while a gasoline fuel consists of thousands of large molecular hydrocarbons. On ignition, the hydrogen flame front flashes through the cylinder wall approx. five times much higher than the velocity of ordinary gasoline, and therefore fuels combust to a higher degree of constant volume which indicates that the engine operates as much close to the ideal cycle (Shivaprasad et al. 2014). The higher value of the H/C ratio of LPG compared to that of E20 also ensures an adequate oxygen molecule for complete combustion of carbon which improves the thermal efficiency of an LPG-inducted engine (Mustafa and Gitano-Briggs 2009). BTE of E20+HHO shows the highest BTE than other fuels especially E20 with hydrogen. The additional oxygen fraction within hydroxy helps the better combustion of air-fuel mixtures than other gaseous fuels (Wang et al. 2011). The peak BTE was found to be 23% for gasoline, 25% for E20+LPG, 26% for E20+H2, and 27% for E20+HHO. The BTE was increased with the induction of E20+LPG in a range of 4–6%, E20+H2 in a range of 11–12%, and E20+HHO in a range of 14–17% with respect to E20 at full operational mode.
Fig. 3

Effect of engine load (a) and engine speed (b) on brake thermal efficiency

Brake-specific fuel consumption

The effect of engine load and speed on BSFC is shown in Fig. 4a, b. BSFC of hydrogen, hydroxy, and LPG-enriched E20 was less than that of the neat E20. The wide flammability range, high flame speed, and short quenching distance of gaseous fuel help to combust completely, faster, and closer to the constant volume process (Falahat et al. 2014). The fuel consumption of E20 was highest because of their lower calorific values as compared to other fuel combinations (Rahman et al. 2017a). The fuel consumption of hydrogen that enriches the engine was comparatively lower than that of LPG-enriched engine. The energy shared by the LPG with E20 was comparatively lower than that of the hydrogen due to its lower LCV; thus, BSFC in this fuel increases. It was noticed that the maximum reduction of BSFC was found to be E20 with hydroxy. The induction of hydroxy increases the oxygen fraction in the intake which helps to complete combustion of air-fuel mixtures in the cylinder (Wang et al. 2011). The reduction of BSFC was found for E20+LPG in a range of 5–6%, E20+H2 in a range of 10–15%, and E20+HHO in a range of 17–18% with respect to E20 at full operational mode.
Fig. 4

Effect of engine load (a) and engine speed (b) on brake-specific fuel consumption

Hydrocarbon emission

The variations of HC emissions with engine speeds and load are shown in Fig. 5a, b. It can be found that HC emissions decreased with the enrichment of hydrogen, hydroxy, and LPG compared to only E20. The wide flammability of gaseous fuel benefits the crevice effect which reduces the probability of occurrence of slow burning, combustion duration, and incomplete combustion cycles of E20 (Ji et al. 2013). The least values of HC emission for E20+LPG were found to be 290–300 ppm; for E20+H2, it was in the range of 250–260 ppm; and for E20+HHO, it was in the range of 180–215 ppm. The HC emission of hydrogen- and hydroxy-enriched fuel was lower than that of the LPG due to the higher adiabatic combustion temperature of these fuels. The maximum reduction was observed with the induction of hydroxy. This can be ascribed to the fact that the addition of the hydroxy increases the oxygen concentration in the cylinder which benefits for enhancing the complete combustion of the fuel (Wang et al. 2011). Moreover, carbon is replaced by the induction of hydroxy (totally carbon free) gas which also a reason for the lower formation of HC emission (Bose and Maji 2009). The reduction of HC emission for the induction of LPG was found to be in a range of 13–14%, hydrogen of 23–30%, and hydroxy of 28–36% with respect to E20 at full operational mode.
Fig. 5

Effect of engine load (a) and engine speed (b) on hydrocarbon emission

Carbon monoxide emission

The effect of the enrichment of hydrogen, hydroxy, and LPG with E20 on CO emission is shown in Fig. 6a, b. CO is highly affected by the fuel-to-air ratio of the engine; thus, induction of hydrogen reduces significantly the presence of CO in the exhaust due to the replacement of fuel by the carbon-free hydrogen (Wang et al. 2012). Meanwhile, the wide flammability and high flame speed of hydrogen contribute to the enhanced combustion of the fuel-air mixtures, and thus produced peak cylinder temperature which helps in the oxidation to convert CO to CO2, syngas (CO+H2), via endothermic process and producer gas (Rahman et al. 2017b). The induction of LPG improves the diffusive burning velocity due to the proper atomization (Mustafa and Gitano-Briggs 2009). The hydroxy-blended engine reduced CO emission more than pure hydrogen engine at full load due to the fact that the oxygen in the hydroxy could further oxidize CO into CO2 which is not the case for the pure hydrogen addition (Wang et al. 2011). The reduction range of CO for using LPG of 14–15%, hydrogen of 28–30%, and hydroxy of 35–39% was noticed as compared to E20 at full operational mode.
Fig. 6

Effect of engine load (a) and engine speed (b) on CO emission

Carbon dioxide emission

The effect of induction of gaseous fuel on CO2 emission is illustrated in Fig. 7a, b. The wide flammability and high flame speed of gaseous fuel contribute to the enhanced combustion of the fuel-air mixtures and thus reduce CO2 emission (Rahman et al. 2017b). The induction of hydrogen with E20 could reduce more CO2 emission than that of the hydroxy-operated engine. This can be ascribed by the fact that the induction of hydroxy improves oxidation reaction to convert CO into CO2 at elevated temperature; thus, hydroxy could reduce more CO at a cost of CO2 penalty which were in good agreement with Fig. 6 (Wang et al. 2011). It was observed that the reduction of CO2 emission was found to be in a range of 12–18% for LPG, 43–50% for hydrogen, and 31–37% for hydroxy with respect to E20 at full operational mode.
Fig. 7

Effect of engine load (a) and engine speed (b) on CO2 emission

Nitrogen oxides emission

NOX is the combination of nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emission. The formation of NOx inside the combustion chamber can be described by the Zeldovich mechanism (Heywood 1988). NO forms inside the combustion chamber in post-flame combustion process in the high-temperature region as below
$$ {\displaystyle \begin{array}{c}\mathrm{O}+{\mathrm{N}}_2=\mathrm{NO}+\mathrm{N}\\ {}\mathrm{N}+{\mathrm{O}}_2=\mathrm{NO}+\mathrm{O}\\ {}\mathrm{N}+\mathrm{O}\mathrm{H}=\mathrm{NO}+\mathrm{H}\end{array}} $$
The NO formation rate can be shown by Eq. 4.
$$ \frac{d\left[\mathrm{NO}\right]}{dt}=\frac{6\times {10}^{16}}{T^{1/2}}\exp \left(\frac{-69090}{T}\right){\left[{\mathrm{O}}_2\right]}_e^{\frac{1}{2}}\ {\left[{\mathrm{N}}_2\right]}_e $$

In the expression, [NO] denotes the molar concentration of the species, [O2]e and [N2]e denotes the equilibrium concentration of oxygen and nitrogen. It can be noted that temperature and oxygen concentration are the main factors for the formation of NO.

Figure 8a, b illustrates the effect of NOx emission with the induction of gaseous fuel with E20. NOX emission increases with the enhancing of hydrogen, hydroxy, and LPG and shows the maximum for hydroxy. This can be attributed to the fact that the oxygen within the hydroxy helps for better combustion which results in peak cylinder temperature (Kumar et al. 2003). Moreover, syngas and producer gas produced during oxidation which was at the elevated temperature might be combustible to yield NOX (Rahman et al. 2017b). The increase of NOx emission for the induction of LPG was found in a range of 13–16%, hydrogen of 26–31%, and hydroxy of 48–55% with respect to E20 at full operational mode.
Fig. 8

Effect of engine load (a) and engine speed (b) on NOx emission


The experiment was conducted with a Ford MVH418, four-stroke cycle petrol engine on hydrogen-, hydroxy-, and LPG-enriched E20 in a wide range of engine speeds and loads. The performance and emission results were compared with neat E20. On the basis of the experimental investigation, the following conclusions can be drawn below:
  • Enrichment of gaseous fuels, i.e., hydrogen, hydroxy, and LPG, with E20 increased BTE. The range of increasing BTE was 4–6% for LPG, 11–12% for hydrogen, and 14–17% for hydroxy.

  • Hydrogen-, hydroxy-, or LPG-enriched E20 has a positive effect on BSFC. Hydroxy-enriched E20 has the lowest BSFC compared to other fuel combinations.

  • Introduction of LPG could reduce HC emission by 13–14%, hydrogen by 23–30%, and hydroxy by 28–36% with respect to E20 at full operational mode.

  • As compared to E20, reduction of CO emission was found to be 14–15% for the induction of LPG, 28–30% for hydrogen, and 35–39% for hydroxy, the maximum reduction of CO for the induction of hydroxy.

  • The induction of hydrogen could reduce the maximum amount of CO2 by 43–50% when compared to other inducted fuels. Induction of LPG could reduce CO2 emission by 12–18% and for hydroxy, it was found to be 31–37%.

  • The concentration of NOx was greatly increased by the induction of gaseous fuel. NOx emission increased by 13–16% for the induction of LPG, 26–31% for hydrogen, and 48–55% for hydroxy.

The induction of gaseous fuel increases the engine performance and emission characteristics except for NOx emission. The hydroxy has the highest engine performance as compared to LPG and hydrogen. Further investigation is needed to control the NOx emission of a gaseous enriched biofuel SI engine.


Funding information

The authors would like to acknowledge the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Bangladesh, for the partial financial support through the research program.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bangladesh Power Development Board, Power DivisionMinistry of Power, Energy and Mineral ResourcesDhakaBangladesh

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